A question posed by the League of Women Voters to school board candidates was, “Do you believe that evolution or creationism should be taught in public schools in Kansas? Explain your answer.”
Were the candidates being asked which of two things should be taught in public schools? Were they being asked if “creationism” should be taught in biology class as an alternative to the theory of evolution?
It is akin to asking, “Should school-sponsored prayer be allowed at high school football games?” It is literally asking, “Should religion be advanced in our high school biology classes?”
Thanks to the First Amendment, public school teachers don’t present Sunday School lessons in science classes. When it comes down to it, “creationism” is a religious teaching. So, if the question is about what students should learn in biology class, the answer should be to teach them biology — which includes the theory of evolution.
Efforts to bring “creationism” into science classes continue. On Nov. 19, 2004, the Dover (Pennsylvania) Area School District announced that, commencing in January 2005, teachers would be required to read a statement to students in the ninth-grade biology class. It began: “The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is part. Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. ...”
The school board’s disclaimer also referred students who were interested in “intelligent design” as another “view” (changing the meaning of the word "theory" as it applies to science) to a textbook, “Of Pandas and People,” published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, a Christian non-profit.
In 2005 the District Court of Pennsylvania heard Kitzmiller v. Dover and U.S. District Judge John E Jones III ruled that intelligent design is a religious theory, not science. The court’s lengthy ruling and an explanation of why intelligent design is the same thing as creationism or creation science and it’s all based on religion can be read online athttps://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2426499-kitzmiller-v-dover-decision.html.
All of these efforts to devote equal time to teaching the biblical view of creation (with or without mentioning “God”) are promoting a religious viewpoint, which is unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s establishment clause. Utilizing scientific-sounding language to describe religious beliefs and then requiring that schools teach the resulting “creation science” or “scientific creationism” as an alternative to evolution is still promoting religion.
Courts have ruled that “creation science” is simply not science, because it depends on supernatural intervention which cannot be explained by natural causes. It cannot be proven through empirical investigation and is, therefore, neither testable nor falsifiable.
“Of Pandas and People,” posits an intelligent designer or a “master intellect” that works outside the laws of nature and science. “What kind of intelligent agent was it (the designer)?” the book asks rhetorically. And it answers, “On its own, science cannot answer this question. It must leave it to religion and philosophy.”
No other science lesson faces this sort of challenge in the classroom. No other science lesson has to include a caveat, “or there could be a supernatural explanation.”
Telling students, “we are required to teach this, but it’s just a theory and science doesn’t know everything,” is about as close as you can get to saying, “for the REAL story, open the Book of Genesis.” The ruling in Dover was that an objective student would view the disclaimer about the Theory of Evolution as an official endorsement of religion. This, the court ruled, “undermines students’ education in evolutionary theory and sets the groundwork for presenting students with the District’s favored religious alternative.”